A modern examination of conscience. (But not too modern… we’re loyal to the teachings of the Catholic Church here!)
All too often we find ourselves letting anger get the best of us. We raise our voices at our kids, or give the silent treatment to our spouse. Parenting (heck, any relationship) can be frustrating, and it’s easy to let things get under our skin.
This month, we will take a closer look at meekness. What is it, what does it call us to do or avoid, and how can we cultivate this virtue?
What is meekness?
Meekness is the virtue that moderates anger. Anger as an emotion is neither good nor bad. However, when we let anger become a passion and dictate our reactions, anger becomes the sin of wrath.
Meekness helps us keep this anger in check. It helps us submit it to the voice of reason.
If we feel angry about something, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate the offense that caused our blood to boil. If we find we’re upset by some petty insult, that’s when we need to practice the virtue of meekness. We need to scale back our temper, take a deep breath, slow down our pulse, and decide to act virtuously.
If we’re upset by a true evil or injustice, that’s an opportunity to practice just anger!
That doesn’t mean we should go all Jesus-in-the-temple style, lashing out with whips and driving people out of our house. But we do need to find a way to address the wrong and correct it if we can.
Learn and pray about meekness
- Learn the definition of meekness
Open your heart to learn about meekness, its complementary virtue (just anger) and its opposing vice (anger or wrath). Reflect on how to increase virtue in your daily life and root out sin. Read more about meekness here.
- Pray for God’s help.
It takes like three seconds. If you feel your emotions starting to rise, cry out to God, “Give me meekness!” (Did you time that? It was way less than three seconds)
- Pray before typing.
Social media is so tempting. Just because we don’t see someone in front of us, we sometimes feel entitled to say whatever we want. But there’s another person at the other end. Sitting there, looking at her computer screen, feeling the hurt of our nasty comments. You’ve felt it before. Next time, put yourself in her shoes and control your speech even online.
Practice meekness toward others:
- Choose silence over arguing.
Somebody doesn’t like your Facebook comment and you’re tempted to launch into a heated argument. Instead, take a step back and pray before you type your response.
- Use a gentle voice.
If you’re a parent, especially with your spouse and your kids. And in prayer. No need to shout at God, He knows what’s best for us.
- Use gentle body language.
No more waving our hands in anger, pointing fingers (literally or figuratively) rolling our eyes, huffing and puffing. Time to let meekness into our body language. Clasp those hands in front of you imitating prayer (and reminding you to pray too!) if you can’t control them otherwise.
Practice meekness toward yourself:
- Resolve to do better tomorrow.
Don’t fret over imperfection. We all make mistakes. And sometimes, it ruins our day. Or our week. We feel so badly that it consumes us and we don’t make a plan to move forward. We stew in our anger, and let everyone around us know it. Instead of letting our emotions get the best of us, meekness lets us make a real plan, resolve to do better tomorrow, and feel good about it!
Practice mindful remedies to anger:
- Be serious and stern about correcting fault if necessary.
This is the just anger part of the challenge. Meekness doesn’t mean being a doormat. It means controlling our unruly passions. But when something is truly wrong, and right needs defending (think: abortion, marriage, your child being bullied in school), do something about it. Make a plan to stick up for the underdog, to right the wrong, and don’t back down.
- Practice meekness as a remedy to anger.
When you do get angry, be intentional about the things you say, the way you walk and move. Purposely walk just a little slower. Talk a little more quietly. You will feel yourself beginning to calm down.
- Also practice meekness when you’re not angry.
This is one I need badly. Let’s say you’re late for church. If you’re like me, you become like a drill sergeant. Ordering people around, rushing back and forth, “MOVE! MOVE! MOVE!” You’re not angry yet, but you’re feeling frantic. Just stop. Literally. Stand still and take 30 seconds to make a plan. Take a deep breath. Then walk, don’t run. Speak, don’t shout. Request, don’t demand. Take control of your emotions before they escalate.
Learn about the connection between pride and anger
- Reflect on the connection between anger and pride.
- Avoid oversensitivity.
“No way! Did she really just say that to me?!” Yes, she did. Sometimes we need to get over ourselves. We’re not perfect. We make mistakes, too. Sometimes they speak without thinking or say something rude on a bad day. Let’s stop making people walk on eggshells around us.
- Don’t retaliate when corrected.
If your friend cares enough to correct you, care enough to do something about it.
Avoid angry thoughts:
- Check your emotions.
Those days where you yell, slam doors, (God forbid – hurt someone else), say something you wish you could take back. Let’s cut those days to a minimum. Redirect your train of though when your emotions start to rise.
- Don’t plan revenge.
I don’t think you’re the mafia-hide-the-body type (ummm, if you are, don’t do that either) but that perfect comeback that will show her… that’s revenge too. Try not to stew and feed those negative vibes.
- Extend forgiveness.
Ever hold a grudge, or wallow in a bad mood? Me too. Ever decide “not to forgive him unless he does x y and z?” Me too. We need to let go. Let go of your grudges, and make peace with those difficult people in your life. Whether it’s a friend or family member who hurt you, or a spouse you betrayed you, we need to start the healing process now.
Avoid angry behavior:
- Avoid gossip.
Gossip. Plain ole’ church parking lot gossip. It tears through reputations like a tornado. Think twice about what you want to say and your intentions for saying it. Then… don’t say it.
- Stay away from petty fights and arguments.
Do you argue for the sake of arguing? Just to hear yourself be right? Maybe you do this at family gatherings (Thanksgiving is coming up, after all). Maybe you do this online (trolling!). Maybe you do this with your spouse out of habit. Is it worth it? If not, just let it go.
- Don’t let your anger determine your discipline.
Yeah, I do this one. “STOP doing that! It’s so annoying!” But it wasn’t wrong or bad… just annoying to me. And how about the name-calling. Do we really think calling our kids a “brat” or a “monster” will help the situation? Does “What were you thinking?!” help them change their behavior, or just make them feel the blame?
- Watch your tone of voice.
Ever notice that when you start snipping at each other, things get heated quickly, and one wrong comment turns into a blow-out fight? Here’s a way to turn things around quickly: change that tone of voice. Try saying, “Yes, honey?” instead of, “What do you want!!!”
Avoid contributing to anger in others:
- Don’t provoke others to anger.
Did you ever see Disney’s Inside Out? That scene where Disgust provokes Anger to the point where his head literally explodes… don’t do that. Not even a little bit. Sometimes our discipline can look like this. Our kids made us so stinking mad we’re going to take away all their toys, and all their food, and all their books, and they can just sit in their bed and starve! That’s not meek. Or effective.
- Seek forgiveness.
Our friends and family have a right to just anger too. But don’t feed the fire of their passions. Ask for forgiveness when you’ve wronged someone else.
Take the Challenge:
Are you ready to grow in meekness? Let’s get started! Here’s what you need to do:
- Prepare. If you haven’t already, read the meekness post carefully and reflect on what it means in your life. Print out your materials and place them in convenient places in your home. Join the Virtue Challenge Team on Facebook.
- Every morning, start the day with prayer (find it on your Nightstand Guide).
- Throughout the day, use your Fridge Guide to help integrate meekness into your life. Your Fridge guide has brief reminders, and some bonus extras (like an indulgenced prayer – woot!).
- Every evening, pray the nightly Examen (find it on your Nightstand Guide). This is a step-by-step review of your day, including praying for forgiveness, and resolving to do better tomorrow.
- Before confession (or weekly at least), prayerfully re-read the Virtue Challenge post. Reflect, not only on your sins and failings, but also on how God has blessed you with growth in virtue!
This Virtue Challenge is going to change your life! I pray God gives each of you (and me too, I need this) the grace you need to grow in meekness, to avoid the sin of anger, and to become the saint He’s calling you to be.
Take the Meekness Virtue Challenge now! Grab some cardstock, print your printables, and get ready for a grace-filled, growth-filled month.
Created in conjunction with Momsters Raising Monsters